Shauna’s mom is a dear friend of mine. And Shauna’s faith journey has been similar to one of my daughter’s so she’s the one I sent desperate emails to, begging for advice during a clueless season of parenting.
Also, I’m crazy about Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet – her first two books – which I think are lovely and insightful. Her just-right word pictures and conversational style and authenticity inspire me as a writer. In fact I love her writing so much that I have this uber paranoia that someday I’m going to write something and it’s going to inadvertently be a phrase she wrote that I liked and swirled around in my brain so much that eventually I thought it was mine. And she’ll call, and be like, “Uh, Laura…” and I’ll be mortified.
So, with that disclaimer out of the way, let me say that Bread and Wine is totally wonderful, but a little different. It is a collection of essays about the meals that draw us together and what they can teach us. Included with almost every chapter is a recipe.
What is different is that it is a smidge more of a food writer’s book than I expected, but don’t let that deter you. The warm and honest Shauna who reflects on faith and not being perfect comes through. I definitely think you should buy the book and savor it and throw a party or a shower. Or bless someone with a pan of “Annette’s Enchilada’s”.
Many will read Bread and Wine, and as they do, breathe a sigh of “Oh, Phew! I’m not the only one!” as Shauna revisits some of the pain she’s written about in her first two books. Her authenticity is what draws readers in. It’s a gift.
However there are also many, many lists of friends and food – a devoted community gathered around lovely meals. You may read this book and be tempted to think, “Oh, I love Shauna! I want her life! But I will never have friends like that or meals that flow so naturally with laughter and meaningful conversation!”
Don’t go there.
Be inspired, but don’t let this book suck you into a comparison game that leaves you feeling like you can only truly exist vicariously through a hip young mama with a life lived large.
Instead, do what Shauna suggests, and celebrate your own. Use it as a chance to gather some old friends (or invite some new ones) together and crowd into the kitchen, and try out some recipes.
“Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to tell someone you love them and dinner’s at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter.”
If you’re not a foodie (or even if you are) don’t take yourself too seriously. If you get it wrong, be prepared to laugh and figure it’s a good story you’ll tell someday.
If you are a foodie (or even if you’re not), remember it’s not about the food primarily. The recipes are wonderful, but they’re an excuse and a putter-at-easer…a means to creating a nurturing space conducive to community. So be intentional. Make it about more than food. Use the discussion questions at the back of the book or make up your own.
I’ll share Wednesday about what happened around my table…